A lot of people believe they cannot reach their dreams, travel to exotic locations, land their dream jobs, get enough sleep every night, spend enough time with loved ones because they don’t have enough time – but, it’s not limited time that’s the problem, it’s bad time management.
What is time management (and why is time management important?)
Proper time management is the effective use of your time that allows you to plan your days in such a way that you finish your work with less effort and make the most of the limited time you’ve got.
So what are the objectives of time management? Well, its objectives are clear in the benefits and advantages of time management:
It helps you achieve what you want, and faster.
It helps you get more done, but in less time.
It helps you waste less time, and avoid more frictions and problems.
It helps you clear your schedule for more leisure time, and feel more energized.
It helps you fulfill more tasks in less time, and in turn feel more fulfilled.
It helps you feel calmer and less stressed over time.
In the end, the entire purpose of implementing time management is making a change in your lifestyle, for the better.
And, to be able to change your lifestyle for the better, you need to stop wasting your time and start using time wisely.
How to stop wasting time
As time is a limited resource in your life, you cannot afford to waste it – instead, you need to embrace what you need to do, and, more importantly, make sure you do it as soon as possible. But, before you can stop wasting time, you first need to understand why you waste it in the first place.
Are you afraid of failure? If you find that you are, ask yourself, why are you afraid of failure?
Some people fear they won’t be able to recover from their failures and continue with their lives as they once were.
Other people fear the opinion of others, and what others will think if they pursue a goal and fail to reach it.
To overcome such fears, you first need to understand that failure is one of the two possible, normal outcomes of your efforts, with both being equally likely. And, more often than not, neither is really under your control.
Sometimes, you’ll succeed because of luck, despite not trying too hard.
Other times, you’ll fail due to unfortunate circumstances despite your best efforts.
In the end, the only thing you can do is to make the most of your time and try your best – work hard, learn to enjoy your successes, and learn to learn from your failures.
As for the opinions of others, remember that the only opinion that needs to matter to you is your own. After all, in the end, you’ll be the one who has to live with your choices and the outcomes of your actions – and you’ll most likely be more satisfied if you’re the one responsible for them.
Once you’ve liberated yourself from the pressures of success/failure, and the opinion of others, you can stop wasting time and start building up your life by using time wisely.
How to use time wisely
Once you’ve done away with wasting time instead of diving into action, you’ll want to learn how to use it wisely – by using the right time management skills and techniques of time management.
Each of these listed elements is important, and helps you save time and improve your life in the process.
Self-awareness represents the foundation of your other skills – without being self-aware of your current strengths and weaknesses, you’ll never be able to assess and improve on your other skills, so you’ll never be able to improve your life.
Also, perhaps even more importantly, unless you’re aware of what you want to achieve, you won’t be able to plan the steps that will lead you to your goals.
Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts, dreams, and goals over time. Write down your strengths and weaknesses. Think about how to lessen your weaknesses, or turn them into strengths, and how to make the most of your strengths.
Set your goals
Once you’ve made yourself aware of what you want, turn your wants into concrete goals. If you know exactly where you want to go, it’ll be much easier to understand how you can best get there.
Also, such a fixed objective will save you a lot of time you’d otherwise waste on pointless side-trips and digressions.
This is where the previously mentioned journal can come in handy. Run through what you’ve written so far, and define your goals – if you were honest about your dreams in your journal, you’ll be able to identify your goals.
Keep your goals to yourself
You may think keeping your goals to yourself counterproductive – after all, isn’t it a common saying that if you want your dreams to come true you have to share them with others?
But, it’s the exact opposite of that. According to Derek Sivers and several studies, people who declare their goals to the world are statistically less likely to reach said goals. This is tied to the fact that people pursue goals because of the satisfaction they feel when they reach them, and people who announce what their goals are already feel this satisfaction – which renders actually reaching their goals unnecessary.
So, next time you feel the urge to tell someone your dreams, goals, and aspirations – simply don’t. This might not seem like a logical time management technique, but, statistically, it’s an effective one.
Once you’ve made yourself aware of your wants, and sorted out your goals, the next step to is to motivate yourself to pursue those goals.
After all, if you don’t believe that you are capable of achieving your goals, how will you ever achieve them?
Think positively about reaching your goals. Define an award that will await you at the end of your journey. And remember to believe in yourself.
If your goals are the final destination you’re trying to reach with the help of proper time management, then planning is the first active step on that road.
Unless you make a plan, you’re more likely to lose your way, and thus more likely to fail – with plans, you’ll know what you need to achieve, and when.
In order to make your plans, you have to assess your goals once again – list the tasks and actions that will help you reach your goals, and do away with anything you believe to be a distraction.
Unless you make up your mind about the road you want to take, you’ll hardly ever make it past the intersection. But, as waiting around and procrastinating gets you nowhere, it’s best that you work up the courage and make a choice.
If you manage your time properly, you won’t feel as pressed for time, and you won’t feel as pressured when making decisions – so, you’ll make better decisions with your life on a whole.
This is a tough one, especially if you like to take your time before making decisions, and if you’re often unsure of what to do next. But, this is where the plan you’ve mapped out earlier can help you. If you’re unsure what decision to make, ask yourself: “What’s the very first step I need to take that will get me to the next point in my plan?”
Question your choices
So, you’ve made some decisions on the road to your goals, but are you always sure they’re the right decisions? After all, the wrong decision may turn you away from your goals and make you lose precious time.
Simply ask yourself: “Is this decision in line with my goals?”, “What are the risks?”, “Do the benefits of this decision trump the risks?”, “How committed am I to my choice?”. In the end, unless you like the answers, don’t move on with what you’ve previously set your mind on – you’ll save yourself a lot of time you’d later spend mending the consequences of your wrong choices.
Prioritize and Organize
Unless you prioritize and focus on your tasks, you won’t be able to tell what of these tasks are urgent and important for you to reach your goals.
There are several prioritization methods around, so you can make your pick. The Eisenhower Matrix is one solution that lets you distinguish the important from the urgent (but not important). Eating your frog, or doing your worst or most difficult task of the day first as a way to boost your moral, is another solution.
Once you’ve prioritized and organized what’s really important, the next step is to focus on your priorities – if you let your mind wander off to other, less important actions, you’ll hardly ever finish what you’ve started.
When at work, close all tabs in your browser, except the one you’re currently working on. Turn off your smartphone, and focus all your attention on your work. Or, depending on your current priorities, turn off your laptop and focus your attention on your loved ones. If you do one thing at the time to the fullest, you’ll be able to say you’ve spent your time well.
Manage your stress
Essentially, stress is a useless factor that gets you nowhere – in the end, the outcome of your efforts will be the same regardless whether you constantly worry about your choices and efforts, or let them go once there’s nothing more you can do about them. Unless you manage it properly, you may experience health problems, or even burnout.
What is meant by stress management? Simply, try to keep your mind off of your problems when you’re not actively working on them – spend time with friends and family, try out a new hobby, laugh, and try to have some fun.
Time management and stress management are intertwined. When you have control of your time, you feel less stressed – and less stress helps you lead a healthier, more relaxed life. When you reduce your stress levels, you’ll feel more capable of tackling your problems in life faster – and save more time in the process.
In this frantic times when you’re encouraged to be prompt (yet effective), and bold (yet infallible), patience is rarely considered a virtue. Just as procrastinating with making decisions makes you lose time, trying to race across the finish line as quick as you can cause you to make the wrong decisions.
By being patient from time to time, you’ll make your commitment to success clear, and decrease the chance of making mistakes along the way.
First, think about why you’re so impatient. Is what you’re waiting for so important that you have to think about it constantly, and devote all your time to waiting around? Chances are that it’s not. Instead, you can focus your attention and energy on a different aspect of your life – after all, waiting aimlessly for something you cannot change or speed up is the biggest time waster of them all.
Cope with problems and challenges
Problems and challenges stand in the way of the clean road to your goals, so unless you overcome them, you won’t be able to move on. And, if you try to bypass them without tackling them, they’ll likely just trip you somewhere further down the road.
There’s a solution to every problem – and leave no stone unturned when looking for solutions to your problems. Assess the problem from every angle. Call your friends and family for help. Deal with your problems as quickly as possible.
Collaborate and communicate
You may have more control if you do something by yourself – but that doesn’t mean that you can or even that you should do something by yourself. Communicating and collaborating with peers and colleagues helps you do more in less time – because there’s more of you doing it. The same goes for your friends and family – you can save a lot of time in life if you would just let your loved ones help you, either directly, or with their advice and guidance.
If you have a problem you cannot solve on your own, call for help – be direct, use simple words, and aim to communicate (if that isn’t immediately clear) why something is important to you. Sometimes you have to turn to other people to help you lead a better life.
In the end…
When you have control of your time, you feel more in control of your life – having control of your life gives you power and freedom, and time management helps you maintain this control.
Eventually, your time management performance mostly depends on your efforts and comes down to your ability to enjoy your successes and learn from your failures.
Sometimes you’ll fail and sometimes you’ll succeed – but proper time management will help you minimize your losses, and increase the likelihood for success. And that’s its chief importance.